As an April Fool’s joke, Red Tricycle published a piece called, “Tinder for Moms, Find Your Next Playdate with a Thumb Tap”. Though it is kind of funny “hahaha” [side eye], reading the article irritated me a little. Here’s why: more than playdates for kids, what moms need more than anything is a community of friends, the belly-laugh-inducing kind!
Moms need smiling, loving, sympathetic faces who won’t grimace when you have a sink full of dishes, cheerios on your floor, and couch full of laundry. They’ll just jump right in and start helping you do it! We need friends who aren’t going to ‘unfriend’ you if you happen to think differently about a popular issue. We need friends who text you to check on how your day is going and who if you’re meeting up for a picnic, packs some extra snacks for your kids, just in case you couldn’t do it. We need a community of moms who celebrate you for making it out of the house, and who are constantly building you up and not judging you because you didn’t have the chance to comb your kids hair this morning. We need friends who aren’t constantly trying to ‘show’ you how to parent, but just parent in the trenches with you. You know, friend-friends!
I’ve lived in Tokyo, San Diego, and now Hawaii as a mom and I can honestly say that Hawaii has definitely been the toughest nut to crack. I’m not the only one who thinks Hawaii is a friendship desert for moms. I’ve met several moms out and about over the past year who’ve found this place challenging in the ‘let’s be friends’ department. I’m not sure why, but I do have some theories and you know I’m about to share those with you.
Why It’s So Hard to Make Friends Here
The mom demographic in Hawaii is pretty segregated. There are the local moms, military moms, and the other moms. Add to that the different pockets of North Shore, Ewa, Central Oahu, Town, Hawaii Kai, Kailua, Kaneohe, and Manoa (technically Town, but they deserve their own distinction…). So there’s the socioeconomic factor that really comes into play here.
Another factor here, which I’ve already blogged extensively about is, the playgrounds on Oahu suck. Most are dilapidated, boarded up, and lack any kind of variety. It’s the same old jungle gym, with bridge plus two slides combo all across the island. (sigh) Thus, while playgrounds are traditionally a parent waterhole in other places, it’s not so much here on Oahu. So, we kind of have a friendship desert. Further, Oahu’s lack of great hangout spots for kids to play (other than the beach) makes for limited opportunities to interact with other parents and kids. So there’s something else to consider.
Another BIG factor is Facebook. FB is awesome for giving moms information but is pretty awful at turning interest and information into ACTION. FB makes it easy to make you think you’re really involved and making friends , but, in reality, you’re really NOT. Posting messages in various groups all day does not friends make. Selecting ‘going’ on an event is super easy. The follow-through though… that’s where the friendship magic happens!
Okay, so with that being said, all hope is not lost. Hawaii is the New York City of friendships. If you can make friends in Hawaii, you can make friends pretty much anywhere else in the world. Guaranteed! [Cue Alicia Keys and Jay-Z]
Here are seven ways to get the ball rolling in making some good mommy friends on Oahu.
1) Focus on making friends with other mommies instead of finding kids for your kids to play with.
Match-making for kids? Don’t do it. This is yet another area in mommy life where we put ourselves dead last. There are moms who only connect with other moms who have kids the exact sames ages as theirs. Why? I know, it seems like it’s easier and it’s probably fear of the unknown (especially for first time moms). But, I’ll let you in on a little secret, things flow a heck of a lot smoother if there is a mix of big kids and little kids. A room full of only four year-olds is a room I do not want to be in 🙂 I”m just sayin!
It’s okay to mix it up and to have big kids around little kids and vice versa. Big kids like being around smaller kids, and can often help resolve conflict and help keep a watchful eye. Plus, kids learn from each other all of the time. Little ones are obsessed with being ‘bigger’. So, let them observe bigger kids in action.
2) Be open to making friends with women you ‘typically’ wouldn’t have been friends with back in the day.
We all come from different places and have different backgrounds. I was born and raised in Alabama and while my best friend growing up was white (Hey Kari!!! Love you!), you typically just didn’t cross color lines in the real friend department. Me and my girl Kari were a bit of an anomaly. Where I’m from, Black girls hung out with black girls, white girls with white girls, etc. You get it.. Kind of like Hawaii [I’m looking directly at you, local moms!] You guys are notorious for only hanging out with your high school friends- who look and act just like you.
Race is a touchy subject. Sometimes, we won’t give someone a chance at being our friend because we assume they won’t get it, or you’re just not sure how to be their friends with them because of a different cultural background. Or, you’re not sure if you’ll say something you shouldn’t. Here’s my unbridled advice, stop overthinking it. Get over any fear of the unknown you might have and just put yourself out there. This is where our kids come into the picture, if they see that mommy has all shapes, sizes, and colors of friends, then it makes them more comfy and encourages them to be that way too! Do it for yourself… but if you need to, set a good example for your kids!
3) Keep Playgroups Small & Become Active in Interests and/or Location-Based Groups.
It’s tempting to do the big groups and yeah, sometimes you might really connect with another mom in a big group, but your chances of connecting better are in small groups. Big groups are simply to impersonal, and if it’s a large playgroup, that means it’s a lot of kids, which means most of the moms are busy watching their kids to really interact. Hence, start small.
Over the years, I’ve had three really stand-out blow my mind mommy friendship experiences. Here, I’ll share with you what they were like:
1) Tokyo Pregnancy Group- a monthly meetup over a pregnant moms house where we ate food, watched a presentation about a pregnancy topic, and chatted incessantly afterward. It was awesome. I made some of my closest mommy friends (still friends today)!
2) North County San Diego Playgroup- My 3rd week of living in Encinitas, California I struck up a conversation with a mom at the neighboring table as a starbucks. We clicked and she could have easily said, okay bye! But she invited me to her mommy playgrounp that met over each others home every week. the hosting mom prepared a nice lunch and the other moms (5 of us) showed up with kids in tow and we chatted, watched our kids, play, and ate food. It was a great group! I MISS that GROUP!!!! (Hi Lauren, Melissa, Erin, Emily!!)
3) Fit4Mom Ewa Beach- Upon Moving to the island six months pregnant, I was at a lost of what to do and my sweet loving husband saw a group of moms running around my neighborhood. He got all of their information for me and I checked them out. I was hooked. I loved having a regular community of moms who knew me and who liked me and my kids. Yep, we sweated together, but our kids also played together, and celebrated together.It was such an awesome experience for me.
4) Invite. Invite again. Then invite again. Oh, and invite again.
Moms are flaky. Not by choice. But because they have mini people to also consider in their scheduling of the day. Don’t take it personal if the person you invited can’t make it. We’ve all cancelled at the last minute because of something kid-related. It happens. Don’t get mad. Don’t swear off inviting them to another event. Just invite them again to something else, eventually, they’ll make it and you guys will have a good time. Just keep inviting.
5) Check in Regularly.
You don’t need me to tell you this, but ummmm… moms are a neglected group of women. We put our needs dead last to pretty much everybody in our lives. So just shoot someone a quick text and ask them how it’s going lately. Which leads me to the next one…
6.) Go Out of Your Way for Another Mom.
I’m a firm believer in Practicing Random acts of Kindness to Other Moms. It doesn’t take much either.
7.) Moms Should Not Beach Alone With Their Kids.
#Truth You know why? Because the beach sucks when it’s just you and your kids. It really does. You need a partner in crime to help you run after the kids or keep an eye on the one who can’t yet walk, while you run after your kids. So remember, there’s always another mom down to hang out at the beach with another mom.
One more thing! They’re not really a ‘Friend Friend’ until they’ve been over your house! So start inviting moms over your house more. House not kid-proof yet? Make it kid-proof then!
Alright. Now go forth and find your new BFF on Oahu! And be a good friend to me and like Fit4Mom Honolulu here. You are welcome to join my village anytime! Join us this Saturday at September 19, 2015 at Pig & The Lady for a Mom’s Night Out! There will be belly laughs, guaranteed!